Online course launched: How to stay safe while covering protests

March 18, 2021
In the last few years, the number of violent protests in the region has increased, as well as the number of incidents involving journalists who reported from inside the demonstrations. The violence is not only carried out by dissatisfied citizens, but also by members of the police force, so when reporting it is essential to be prepared and stay safe.

A hard ask when as a journalist you are used to put the story first and think about your safety later! But to be able to read a crowd and recognise a potentially dangerous situation before it occurs can be a life-saving skill!

Working with Natasa Kovacev, an experienced news reporter, who covered many protests in the Western Balkan countries and throughout Europe, together with a team of international and regional experts, Thomson Media has developed a course that will help you to prepare for covering protests and know how to react if they turn violent.  The course is available in three regional languages (see links below).

It is paramount to prepare before attending a demonstration to ensure your digital security as well as physical safety, and to know how to take care of your mental health and well-being after the violence ends.

Thomson Media online course will address the preparation before and dealing with the aftermaths of violent protests and give you practical tips on how to keep safe during the demonstration environment, how to interact with police or what to do in case you are arrested.

Throughout our course you will:

  • Learn why covering protests has become one of the riskiest jobs in journalism.
  • Discover how the Western Balkans fare in terms of journalists’ safety when covering protests compared with the rest of the world.
  • Learn about the possible hazards you will have to deal with if you report from violent protests.
  • Learn how to plan before going out into the field, what to be aware of, what to take with you and what protective gear you might need.
  • Learn how to cope with tear gas, how to address the police, how to behave in case of a stampede.
  • Find out what are your legal rights as a journalist – what you can film or photograph and what the police can and cannot ask you to do.
  • Learn about digital security techniques, how to protect your phone or computer and to keep your communications safe and encrypted.
  • Find out how to reduce stress and recognise the signs telling you it is time to ask a professional for help.

How to stay safe while covering protests online course is available in three regional languages:

Follow the links, register and enroll now!

Meet your instructors

Natasa Kovacev, your course instructor, is an experienced news reporter, who covered many protests in the Western Balkan countries and throughout Europe. She is currently working for N1 television from Serbia and prior to that she was a correspondent for Al Jazeera Balkans.  Field work brought her to numerous spots of turmoil in previous years, like Ukraine in 2014, Brussels and Ankara after bomb attacks, Bucharest during the big anti-corruption demonstrations, so she got to know in person what are the difficulties reporters can face.

Joining Natasa is a strong team of media experts:

Judith Matloff, a journalist, war correspondent for many years, media expert for safety issues and a professor of crisis reporting at Columbia’s Graduate school of journalism.

Andrej Petrovski, a Director of Tech/CERT at SHARE Foundation, with a background of education in Software Engineering and Master Studies in Electronic Crime and Digital Forensics.

Ivan Breshkovski, an independent lawyer in the field of civil and penal law, and an adviser to the Association of Journalists of Macedonia concerning journalistic rights and freedoms.

This online course was produced the framework of the Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey project, which is implemented by BIRN Hub in partnership with Thomson Media gGmbH (TM), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Central European University (Center for Media, Data and Society at CEU), the Media Association of South-East Europe (MASEE), the Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN CG), the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers in Macedonia (SSNM), BIRN Albania and BIRN Serbia.

The project is funded by EuropeAid/European Commission through its Regional Training and Support Program to Improve Quality and Professionalism in Journalism.